Opus Resource Library
Quick Tips: Holbein Acryla Gouache
Opus Resource Library

Holbein Acryla Gouache is a popular water-soluble acrylic gouache that we carry here at Opus Art Supplies. With the popularity, we get a lot of questions about this gouache. To help with some answers, we asked Opus Staff Lara Hjorthoy to share some of her knowledge with us.

About Holbein Acrylic Gouache

In short, Holbein Acryla Gouache (note: actually now named Holbein Acrylic Gouache) is an acrylic paint that is opaque, with a matte finish when dry.

Holbein Acryla Gouache has many of the characteristics of traditional gum arabic gouache, but has a sturdier paint surface. The paint can be diluted with water while painting to create more delicate washes. You can use it as a base layer, and it will not contaminate over painted layers, as the paint dries water-resistant.

Holbein Acryla Gouache in Orange
Holbein Acryla Gouache in Orange (old packaging.) The wet paint still has sheen to it, whereas the dry paint is fully matte. 

How do you pronounce Gouache?

That is definitely one of the most asked questions about this paint! It's pronounced like "Gowaash" or “Gwaash.

Note: It sounds similar to “squash."

What do you enjoy about Holbein Acryla Gouache?

Traditional gouache (similar to watercolour paint) is considered a very fragile medium when it’s dry. It can be rewet and can crack and flake if applied too heavy. With Holbein Acryla Gouache this issue is eliminated, so layering is a dream!

Traditional gouache also has a dramatic shift in colours when dry. For example, some dark colours can dry lighter, and light colours dry darker. With Acryla Gouache, there is no shift. The colour wet is what it looks like dry!

Holbein Acryla Gouache is a highly pigmented opaque paint that dries to a velvet matte finish. The addition of polymer medium means your paint will be permanent when dry! It's a water-based medium, so it's easy to clean up with water!

A notebook decorated with Holbein Acryla Gouache, created by Opus Staff Dani
Opus Staff Dani's notebook, decorated using Holbein Acryla Gouache

Who would you recommend this paint to?

Traditionally, illustrators and graphic designers were the main demographic for this gouache. The ability to photograph/scan without glare made it ideal for their craft. 

But nowadays – anyone and everyone! It’s a medium that can be used in all sorts of manners.

What supplies are needed for painting with gouache?

With Holbein Acryla Gouache, the sky is the limit.

Surfaces: As it behaves just like acrylic paint, all the surfaces you’d use for that can be used. Canvas, cradled panels, watercolour paper and more! I suggest a smooth surface as it really compliments the finish. 

Brushes: Watercolour brushes or acrylic brushes with some stiffness will better handle the weight of the paint.

Palettes: Opus Paint & Peel Palettes are wonderful! I personally use a ceramic plate, for the ease of cleaning!

How do you personally use Acryla Gouache?

Holbein Acryla Gouache can make a great base layer!

I use Acryla Gouache as a base layer to my traditional gouache portraits. The bold colours give a lovely effect showing through the layers of paint.

I have also used it as a base layer for my oil paintings. The matte surface of the gouache grips the oil paint so well!

Lara's supplies for gouache painting.

Do you have any other tips for using gouache?

Absolutely! This paint can be quite a challenge straight out of the tube. It has a sticky consistency and will drag and skip across your surface. You can fix this by slowly adding water to the paint until the consistency allows the paint to flow smoothly off the brush. Adding too much will degrade the opacity of the paint. It takes a bit of practice to find the correct balance, but will make your experience much more enjoyable! 

Also – a little paint goes a long way. These seem like small tubes, but they are jam packed with pigment loads. You do not need a lot of paint to start, so go easy on the squeeze!

Shop Holbein Acryla Gouache

Want more detailed tips from Lara?

Register for Lara's online demo with us taking place Thursday, August 10. Lara will be delving into the mediums' applications, features and benefits. She will share how to overcome specific challenges, saving you time in the long term.

Lara Hjorthoy

Lara Hjorthoy is an Illustrator, Sculptor and Makeup Artist from Vancouver, BC. Canada. She is a contributing artist for Higgins Ink, Koh-I-Noor and Amazing Casting Resin. Lara is an active participate in the Vancouver Arts Community and has worked with Opus Art Supplies for the last ten years.

@larahjorthoy on Instagram